Friday, December 28, 2007

All Things Chocolate

Other things I made for people for Christmas included these Chocolate Truffle Macaroons (Nigella and I collaborated on this one...ha, ha). They are a basic Nigella version of the chocolate macaroon with my secret recipe alcoholic chocolate ganache! I think I can safely say I'll be putting Laduree out of business soon, don't you?! ;-)
And I did my first painting in years (after a refresher course earlier on in the year). It is an acrylic painting on paper of my Mum's dog Coco. Coco is a Gordon Setter, and should be black with tan paws and muzzle, but due to a recessive gene she is a glorious (and rare) chocolate colour. She didn't pose for this picture, she is seldom still, so I made it up from several shots of her including one of her hanging over the back stable-style door. Finally, and a little less chocolatey. On New Year's day we (Mum, Dad, my cousin's family and me if I make it after New Year's celebrations in London) will be eating this Nigella recipe chocolate and chestnut ice cream meringue stack.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Christmas is Coming...

I did not make this, Betz White did, but isn't it just the most gorgeous thing evah?! I have a dark purple feather wreath on my door, which I've studded with matte-finish dark purple baubles (which everyone knocks off when they come in the door-I need to invest in some ribbon and tie them on), but I'd almost be tempted to replace my glamorous wreath for this girlie one! I love it!Meanwhile I have been a buzy bee making things for Christmas. I've made a batch of soap I'm calling White Christmas, which is a cocoa butter and coconut oil based soap scented with nutmeg, ginger, cloves and cinnamon. I wrapped it all up in white tissue paper and tied up piles of them with white cotton yarn, adding a silver card tree or snowflake to the top. Here they are all stacked up under my beautifully hideous fluffy tree:And two scarves have come off my needles for two very special pals.

Scarf number one was Cloud, by Sue Morgan, knitted in pale pink Kidsilk Haze. I knitted one for my friend Jess last year and had plans to knit one for Suzanne, but life got a way from me, so Suzanne is getting hers a year late - although she wont know its late! ;-)

Scarf number two is what I am calling the Not So Plain Jane scarf and is knit in Rowan RYC Cashsoft DK. It is kind of my own design, if you can even call it that. Jane, my boss at the clothes shop, doesn't like fuss, so decided to knit what I hoped would be almost the plainest scarf possible, but I soon realised I'd have to add some kind of embellishment though. In the end, I knit a basic seed/moss stitch scarf and did a row of four button holes about 8" from the bottom of one end and I sewed shiny gun-metal buttons (that kind of look like screws) on the other end to line up with the holes. This means the scarf can be worn draped round the back of the neck and fastened across the chest, or doubled over and tucked through, like a cravat, with the buttons acting as a detail on the side of the neck. Its kind of cute, even if I do say so myself, and is great for a short person (like Jane) who doesn't look good swamped in scarf.
There are a couple of other knitted gifts to show you, but these might have to wait until after Christmas as they really need to be photographed on their owners to get the true effect.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

For The Love of Blocking

I was chatting to my sister-in-friend on Ravelry the other day when I discovered that she is more your ‘knit and go type’, that is, she’s not a blocker, and I suddenly realised I could go on for hours about the merits of blocking!

Whether it is because I am a PhD student trying to avoid writing; or the Virgoan perfectionist in me; the domestic goddess (domestic goddess-wannabe at least) that loves cleaning and homemaking; whether its because Debbie Stoller told me to do it; or because I know its best to know (especially when it’s a gift) how that yarn will react to water; or if its just because I think its nice (again especially when it’s a gift) to clean something that has been in my mitts for days, weeks or months, I just love blocking!

I actually look forward to that final stitch when I start thinking about the running water, the smell of the washing liquid and (my favourite) Comfort conditioner (Lilly and Riceflower to be precise). I love having the knitted item in the sink and sloshing it around so the water and soap get into every nook and cranny. There I am in my post-knitting ritual. I baptise thee: ‘scarf’! Then I love squeezing all the water out and the setting the item on a bed of freshly washed towels and teasing it into the perfect shape. I love how neat and (near) perfect it looks. I love how satisfied I feel that its all done….

So, in conclusion, I am a blocking bore AND PROUD OF IT!